WTGW 12/19/18: Bison Street Burgers and Brews, Massillon

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Our trek to Bison Street Burgers and Brews began by driving for about a year and a half to get to the place, between Ted’s directionally challenged map advisor and the fact that this is pretty much the other side of the world from our house. The final leg of the drive also involved meandering through some residential neighborhoods – thanks for the holiday light displays, people of Massillon – so of course we were totally convinced that this week’s pick would actually end up being at someone’s house.

I joke because it’s happened before. Ok, well not really, but this certainly isn’t the first time we’ve had these thoughts.

Finally we’re here! And it’s not a house!  Yeah, no, instead it’s some giant building that looks like it should be a commercial trucking company or pool chemical distributor.

Welcoming. Where have you brought us, Ted?

There’s also some sort of strange maze of concrete pilons all over the parking lot. Seems an odd choice for a place that advertises “brews” in the name, no? Is this their version of sobriety testing before you can head home?

If not for the giant banner on the side of the building announcing “Now open to the public!” we may have second guessed this choice, cut our losses, and tried to find our way back to civilization before searching out some food and drinks.

Thankfully we all had our adventurous pants on this evening, and ventured ahead into the mysterious giant building.

And – spoiler alert – we were not at all sorry. This place is definitely a hidden gem. Emphasis on hidden.

The inside of Bison St made us all think perhaps the place used to be a private club of some sort – you know, Eagles, Moose, Lions, whatever animal seemed to be a good name for a club that popped up in pretty much every small town in Ohio at one time or another. It’s a giant room, with a decent sized bar at one side and tables throughout. Also, lighting. Which sounds strange to say, but given the darkness we’ve eaten in over the past few weeks it was actually kind of nice to be able to see our food for a change.

Given the name of the place, of course we all ordered beers with our meals. I had just gotten home from a quick overnight work trip to NYC – which of course involved personal challenges to close down bars that stay open until 4AM – so alcohol was about the furthest thing from my mind. And then naturally I ordered a Christmas Ale. Logical, I know.

Our server came over and let us know that all of the apps were half off. I can’t remember if this was because it was Wednesday or because we were there during happy hour, though, so don’t quote me on being able to get this special ever again. Did I mention I didn’t get much sleep the night before?

There were two apps that weren’t part of the special – the loaded fries, and something called The Titan, which turned out to be a giant one pound pretzel. We saw one of these delivered to a nearby table before we placed our orders, and we can vouch that it is aptly named. But we didn’t order it – because, hello, there were a wealth of other items to choose from that sounded just as delicious but were part of whatever special we were told about.

Frugality is a strong point of this group. You should know this by now.

Speaking of things you should know by now, Cassi and Jason ordered the fried pickles as their appetizer. Ted also decided to get his own order as well.

Where did they find such skinny spears?

Shane and I opted for the cream cheese poppers, because they sounded delicious. And also the onion rings, because after the special they were $2. I mean, seriously.

Why don’t we order these more often?

Definitely not from the same “small veggie” garden that the pickles are grown in

Perhaps because we’ve been slacking on our normal menu inquisition of our dear servers, we decided to try our luck on that line of questioning again this time. To which we were greeted with the time-honored and oh-so-helpful answer of “everything.”

Uh oh. We’ve been down this road before.

But then she mentioned that the place is known for its burgers – which, come on, you’re not really going out on a limb with that one considering it’s in. the. name. of. the. establishment. – and also the gourmet grilled cheeses. OK, now we’re getting somewhere.

Then she went on to say that the flatbreads are also good. And that the Cowboy burger is the best seller.

OK, we get it. Just stop before you creatively manage to reinforce your initial statement about everything on the menu being worth ordering.

Have we mentioned The Titan yet? Yeah, well, so did she. We’re beginning to be sorry we asked.

Hey, Ted managed to pick one of the few items on the menu that the server didn’t point out! He chose the strip steak with mashed potatoes, claiming he had been having recent cravings for a good steak.

Obviously he was also having cravings for just food in general, since Ted literally didn’t speak to the group the entire time he was eating. It was like we weren’t even there. At one point I think the other four of us actually stopped eating so that we could just watch him clean up every morsel of food on any plate that was in front of him.

It wasn’t until the server arrived to take the plates from the table that he seemed to look up and realize he was among a group and could rejoin us again.

So clearly he hated it.

I’m surprised I was able to get a photo of this before it disappeared

I kid. He said that it was delicious, and actually it was one of the better steaks he’s had in some time. The meat wasn’t overly seasoned, but because it was cooked to perfection it had a ton of flavor.

It wasn’t until he paid it the highest compliment of saying he liked it “as much, if not a lot more” than that infamous steak special at the Dougout that Shane’s ears perked up.

I already see a revisit, just so Shane can order this entree and try it for himself.

Jason got the aforementioned Cowboy Burger, and also an order of Coney dogs. The server explained – probably as she realized Jason was essentially ordering two full meals just for himself – that the Coney dogs weren’t anything to sneeze at, the order was actually two large-ish dogs and a full order of fries. So, yeah, a crapload of food.

But hey, he still went for it. Because when have statements like these really ever stopped us? It’s more like a challenge.

And clearly she doesn’t read this blog.

Plus Cassi stepped up to say that she would eat some of the fries. This is how marriages succeed, people.

The one stipulation was that she needed to be able to get a side of beer cheese to dip the fries in. And while what showed up wasn’t quite the swimming pool’s worth of melted goodness that arrived on the table at that place in Barberton, it was definitely close.

Maybe it’s a good thing Ted never looked up long enough to see this giant bowl of cheese?

The Coney dogs turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. They definitely looked better than they tasted – which seems to be an oxymoron of a statement all on its own, being that Coney dogs are made to look like a bit of a hot mess on a bun – so I guess what you can read into that is that we were all far more excited to see them arrive on the table than Jason was to eat all of them. Jason said they weren’t horrible, per se, but mainly that the chili was too sweet.

Proof that looks can be deceiving

I mean, he still he still ate everything, though, so take that as you will. He just thought maybe the value was more at a $3 level instead of the $5 they charged.

Yes, this is the level we’ve hit, folks. You know you’re pro when you can play The Price is Right with menu items.

Lest you think fries with cheese sauce were Cassi’s only source of nourishment for the evening, she also got the half pesto flatbread and six spicy garlic boneless wings. And it only took about a bite and a half of each one before she said she wished she had nixed the flatbread and just gotten a double order of wings. The wings were small, but the flavor was outstanding … while the flatbread was the exact opposite of both of those things

But at least it’s pretty?

I think Cassi wished this was one of those never ending baskets

Because I apparently wasn’t paying attention during the part of the evening when we realized that the server was going to be not helpful in the least when it came to decision making, I pushed my luck and inquired which was better: the Philly grilled cheese or the Ranch burger made with Bison meat.

I bet you already can’t guess how influential this was to my decision.

So I chose the burger … at which point Shane says “hey, you know what? we always get burgers when we go out. maybe you should try something new.” … so I crossed back over into the grilled cheese camp.  And vowed to Shane that if my meal sucked I was holding him personally responsible.

This is also how marriages succeed. We should totally teach a course.

What was that we said about looks being deceiving?

I’m glad to say Shane was allowed to live, because my meal didn’t suck … but it also wasn’t so great that I didn’t kind of still half wish I’d ordered the burger instead. It’s like the Sliding Doors of food orders. The sandwich was just OK. It was made from braised short rib – which the server did tell me going into the order, so I wasn’t expecting processed Philly steak like other sandwiches. Maybe that’s why I had higher expectations. And, I mean, it tasted good … but it just wasn’t at the top of the list of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

Maybe it was the sourdough bread, which usually I love but in this case just didn’t seem to go with the sandwich.

Thumbs way up on the fries, though. I got the steak fries (compared to the rest of the table’s fresh cut) and was not disappointed there.

Shane got the Flaming Hot Burger, which he wasted no time in exclaiming how amazing it was. Per the previous few paragraphs, I wasted no time in not pretending that didn’t annoy me at least a little bit.

I like that they hide the hot peppers under a sheet of cheese. Tricky.

Mine and Shane’s bill was $35, which got us two appetizers, two Bud lights for Shane, one Christmas ale for me (which was the Beer of the Month, so cheaper than usual), and two full meals – of which I ended up taking half of my sandwich home, probably thanks to the two apps worth of fried stuff we started out the meal enjoying. Not too shabby at all.

Plus the place had a cool atmosphere on the inside – and despite the fact that the server wasn’t the best at giving solid recommendations, the service was great. I mean, it’s better when the server can’t decide what to recommend because she honestly loves everything they make, and not because she doesn’t care or hasn’t been there long enough to have really even opened a menu.

I could definitely see us making a return visit to Bison St. Especially after we noticed on our way out that there seems to be a fairly large covered patio area outside, so it will be interesting to see if they have bands there, or just make it into a cool outdoor area for the summer. It only it weren’t over the river and through the woods away from our house … but at least in the summer it stays light out longer, so maybe it won’t feel like midnight before we even make it into the concrete-hazard-laden parking lot. Can y’all leave the Christmas lights up for us?

Picked by: Ted

Ted

Shane, decked out in his holiday finest

Steph

Jason

Cassi – up for wings, down for flatbreads

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WTGW 9/27/16: The Basement, Sagamore Hills

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Once upon a time (like last summer), in a land far, far away (OK, not really) Ted pulled up lame for his turn to pick, and chose the newly opened Fairlawn location of Ray’s Place, when we had just visited the Kent location like a year and a half earlier.

And of course was teased, mercilessly and mostly by Shane, for his complete lack of originality.

I mean, not as much he’s been teased for his notorious Gus’s pick – I doubt anything can truly top that beating – but still.

Anyway, fast forward to now … and note the irony of Shane choosing the Sagamore Hills location of The Basement, a place we last visited a different location of … oh wait, what’s this? … yep, about a year and a half earlier.

Hi, Pot? Meet my friend Kettle. I think you might have some things to say to one another.

So, the last time we went to The Basement, it had been Amanda’s pick, and we visited the Waterloo location in Akron. I remember we all liked the place, and in true us fashion we all vowed we would go back soon … but then promptly forgot all about the place every time one of us asked another where we should go to eat.

Story of our lives, people. For reals.

Although, truth be told, as I think back on it now really the only things I can recall about that particular pick were that 1) it was really dark inside the place with total Dance Party USA lighting going on at 7pm on a Wednesday, and 2) they had funnel cake fries.

Oooh, funnel cake fries. Hmm, maybe we can forgive this pick after all.

We’ll get back to that in a minute.

So the first thing I noticed at the Sagamore Hills location is that it’s missing the neon swirly lights and cavernous darkness of the Waterloo location. It’s still kind of dark – but hey, it’s a sports bar so really you’ll have that. We don’t need gymnasium lighting at a place that serves drinks until 2am. Seriously.

Ted, Shane and I got there after Jerrid and Amanda (no surprise), which meant we had some catching up to do in the drinking department. Especially when Jerrid had been drinking Jack & Cokes prior to our arrival. But at least that translated to him being on good terms with the bartender by that point, so there’s that.

We also had the luck of sitting at the cool round table attached to the end of the bar. I’ve never seen anything like this anywhere else but I have to admit it’s brilliant. It’s like if the bar had an open air gazebo built on the end of it. Or like the bar and a high top table had a baby. Or like someone just took a round high top table and glued it to the corner of the bar. Or like …. yeah, I’m out of comparisons. Just know that it was cool, and really pretty much a creation I’m surprised one of us hasn’t proposed anywhere else yet. We’re clearly slackers.

The special was buckets of five domestic bottles for $8, so that of course got mine and Shane’s attention. We should mention that this was also Shane’s first time drinking beer since his return from Vegas last week (see also, why we didn’t go anyplace new last week), where his body apparently hit the “full” meter on acceptance of malt beverages.

Glad to see that finally reversed itself. We were worried.

Ted got the Lagerheads Octoberfest on draft. Ah, Lagerheads. I miss that place. I think we all miss that place. Well, except Shane, who curses that place like the devil after something he ate there didn’t play nice with his stomach on our second visit back. Needless to say, we haven’t been able to return since it rendered him completely incapacitated for Thanksgiving 2015.

Anyway.

We took forever to place our orders because – as usual – everything on the menu looked freaking amazing. Cue Amanda’s “I’m so hungry, I’m eating everything” line.

Ted decided on the mini corn dogs for an app. Because who doesn’t love bite sized fair food? IT’s brilliant, really. Although when he ordered, the server corrected him that the real name of the food is “Mini Ha Has.” Um, OK. WTF does that even mean? Why are corn dogs funny? Why not just name them what they are instead of trying to be cute?

Who doesn't love fair food?

Who doesn’t love fair food?

Whatever, they were good, that’s all we need to know.

I got the fried mushrooms for an app. Because someone else had to represent with the fried food. I mean, come on. What’s happened to us and our old tableful of fried appetizers? For shame.

It's not a WTGW without deep fried stuff

It’s not a WTGW without deep fried stuff

For dinner Ted got the Twice Baked Hot Hand Kaluger Wings. Try saying that five times fast. Again – can we stop with the complicated names here? In any case, while I’m still not really sure what all of that means,Ted was happy to have ordered them, and said they were delicious.

But what does the twice baked really do?

They look like regular wings, no?

I guess the whole “twice baked” thing is some special way of cooking the wings (I’m gonna bet they put them in the fryer again once the sauce is on them, but that’s just me trying to be logical) – but whatever it is I guess it’s worth the wait and the extra charge for doing so. So, score.

I built my own flatbread (ambitious, I know) with pepperoni, mushrooms, banana peppers and cheese. It was good, but a touch too crispy for my liking. I prefer a little more doughy. But that’s just me.

A lovely pizza all for me

A lovely pizza all for me

Shane got the “Vito Corleone” pizza – which, in keeping with the themes of complicated names, really translates to “pizza with a lot of crap on it.” Seriously. Like four kinds of meat, some banana peppers, olives, onions … I think there was some dough and sauce involved, too, but I honestly couldn’t see it underneath all the other stuff.

There's a lot of meat going on there

There’s a lot of meat going on there

He also got six of the Sweet Heat Boneless wings – because, you know, we strive for ordering enough food to feed not only our group but also the immediate tables around us. (Case in point, the server actually started to walk away before Amanda put her order in – I guess he assumed we’d pretty much over-ordered already, even though there was still one person who hadn’t spoken yet). In any case, Shane had gotten those same flavor of wings the last time we went to The Basement, and remembered he liked them a lot. But alas, he was not so much a fan this time around. Maybe it’s because the last time he got the regular and not boneless … but this time he said they just didn’t have much flavor.

Dry rub + boneless = pass

Dry rub + boneless = pass

But he did eat them all – because, I mean, really, we don’t waste food here. But he did end up taking half the pizza home. So that makes two weeks in a row with doggie bags. Who is this person?

Jerrid got the Kaluger Chicken Flatbread Pizza and the Parm Ranch wings. He was a big fan of the Kaluger sauce on the pizza, as well as the wings. Although he also joined the “eyes bigger than stomach” club for the evening, throwing the last few pieces of his flatbread into Shane’s take home box.

Wait, is that melted cheese? I'm confused

Wait, is that melted cheese? I’m confused

Props for the presentation

Props for the presentation

Amanda got the Meatball Philly. It was good, but huge. Also, in looking back to the last time we visited, it appears that was the same thing Ted ordered that time around … only the photos look quite a bit different. Ironically his main gripe then was that the sandwich had too much cheese – which, I mean, this is Ted, so really ANY cheese is too much cheese – but looking at Amanda’s it doesn’t seem like they piled it on like they did with Ted’s … or really at all. Hmmm.

Meatball sub, circa 2015 and another location

Meatball sub, circa 2015 and another location

Meatball sub, a year and a half - and much less cheese - later

Meatball sub, a year and a half – and much less cheese – later

Maybe they read this blog and heeded Ted’s complaint? Interesting. I mean, of all the things we’ve complained about over the years, THAT’S the one thing that someone changed? NEVER TAKE AWAY CHEESE. Seriously people. That’s like rule #1 of life in general.

So remember how I mentioned the funnel cake fries being one of the main things we raved about from our last visit, and how much we were all looking forward to them this time around? Yeah, we never got around to ordering them.

I KNOW, RIGHT!?!?!

WTF is wrong with us? I mean, that was half the reason Shane put himself in the line of fire and chose a repeat place.

We’re seriously slipping.

So I guess just based on that alone, we have to put this place on the revisit list, right? I mean, it’s only fair.

But even funnel cake fries aside, The Basement is still a great sports bar, and I for one liked this location much better than the other one we visited. There were lots of TVs for sports, our bartender was great and the prices were good. What more can you ask for?

Amanda

Amanda

Jerrid

Jerrid

Shane (is he picking his nose?)

Shane (is he picking his nose?)

Ted

Ted

Steph

Steph

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Update – maybe it was because we mentioned the place in this post, but the night we got home from The Basement Shane was stricken with the same stomach bug he came down with last time we ate at Lagerheads – the one that still makes him shudder every time we even mention the name of the place. He was up all night throwing up, and even had to go into work late so he could get some sleep after visiting the bathroom floor for most of the night. Ick. So I guess he and I are at least off the return invite list for this place. Rats.

Funnel cake fries, I’ll miss you. Send postcards.